Social Media Marketing in 2018

Social media platforms (namely, Facebook) have become all-in-one tools for users. They can stay up to date on their favorite shows and celebrities, chat with friends, play games, keep in touch with family members, research products or services, learn about businesses, locate businesses, and write customer reviews about their experiences.

Need a social media marketing plan? Check out this post on how to create one.

SMO (Social Media Optimization)

Google may be the most trusted platform for obtaining users, but Facebook is more versatile and, with its multiple facets, may even be more convenient at times. This doesn’t mean that search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t important in 2018. It most certainly is. However, social media optimization is just as important. Social media optimization involves tactics to ensure that your business stands out, gets found, and generates leads on social media.

Here are some SMO musts for 2018:

  • Use a link to a landing page (not a homepage) in your bios.
  • Add your location to Facebook and Instagram for location-based marketing.
  • Get reviews on Facebook
  • Use social media advertising. The targeting is superb.

Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content comes into play for 2018 because now more than ever, consumers are expecting authenticity, transparency, and immediacy from businesses. Stories aren’t for putting forth your highest quality content, but that’s okay, it gets wiped off the record anyway! Stories give your audience immediate and raw access to your business, helping to build trust and consistent engagement. They also are a form of video, which is huge for 2018.

Posts to help you with producing ephemeral content:

10 Reasons to Use Instagram Stories

Ideas for Using Instagram Stories

Tips for Marketing Your Business with Instagram Stories

There are many more important trends that exist in these and other marketing channels that are important to know for 2018. You’re not going to be able to adopt every new tool or change all of your existing strategies for the latest ones, but that’s okay. It’s most important to focus on optimizing your current channels, and leaving enough room to try a few new things.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Online Store

What’s in it for you?

Connecting social media with your ecommerce presence allows even the smallest shop to tap into an enormous—and still growing—potential customer base. With more than 400+ million users on Facebook alone, this single network now boasts more traffic per week than Google in the U.S. The real value in Facebook and other social networks is in their exponentially powerful word of mouth marketing. Believe it or not, 75% of consumers trust peer recommendations of products and services, while less than 15% trust paid advertising. This means you can have a much more honest dialogue with your customers through social media.

Direct Product Marketing

The easiest way to get started in with social media integration for your e- commerce business is with direct promotion of products, services, special offers and events distributed through a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter. By sharing news about new products, special offers for Facebook or Twitter followers and even exclusive events, you can build a loyal and engaged following that will want to share their “secret” find with their friends. Contests, giveaways and special promotions designed to encourage fans to spread the message can help to grow your network and customer base. For example, create a contest whereby the 100th follower to Re-Tweet your “deal of the day” receives a special discount or gift certificate. Charmandchain.com, an online jewelry boutique that uses Shopify for their online store, has incorporated word-of- mouth marketing into their Facebook page by offering an incentive for the customer to tell friends about the store. By inviting 20 friends to become a fan on Facebook, follow on Twitter and join the mailing list, the customer is entered into a sweepstakes to win a $300 gift certificate. The message about Charm and Chain is spread exponentially.

Brand Building with Indirect Marketing

Besides direct promotion of products and services, social media provides an easy and effective way to build brand leadership and trust among your customers and fans. Blogs are an excellent way to weave a bit more of your shop’s personality and expertise into the sales conversation without a direct sales push. Blogging about new products and events is important but by also sharing your knowledge, tips and thoughts on industry news, product trends and other “big picture” aspects of the business, customers will be more inclined to turn to you for their purchases based on this established trust factor. Active participation in community forums is another powerful way to maintain engagement with customers beyond the sales transaction. Answering questions, providing feedback and serving as an information resource in your own or other public forums positions you as an expert in your industry, someone your customers can trust and a company they can turn to in order to meet their needs. Finally, don’t forget to integrate these efforts with Facebook and Twitter. By sharing a link to a new blog post over Facebook or Twitter, for example, you can reach your audience in multiple ways thereby making it easier to keep up to date on your news.

Integration Tools Make it Easy

While integrating social media with your ecommerce presence may be free, it may still come at a price: your valuable time. Maintaining multiple online presences, pages and feeds can be extremely time consuming. Fortunately, with the right ecommerce platform, you can easily integrate—and automate—these efforts to save time. First, build a Twitter applet, Facebook “Like” button andd a blog feed directly into your storefront to make customers aware of your social presence and make it easy for them to find you. Second, choose an ecommerce platform provider with social media integration tools that automate the distribution process. This way, when you add a new product, launch a promotion, post a new blog article or have any other bit of news to share, the message is distributed instantly and automatically across all the social networks you’ve established. With just a single point of contact to spread the message across multiple platforms, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time you invest in social media management to improve efficiency without sacrificing valuable customer engagement. While it may seem overwhelming to step into the social media fray, the opportunity for growth by leveraging this evolving medium simply cannot be ignored. With easy-to-use integration tools at your disposal, building a social media presence can not only easily generate an impressive return on investment, but it can also be a fun and energizing way to interact with your customers and learn more about what makes them tick—which can pay further dividends long down the road.

We can help

Here are a few online store software and service we provided to help grow your sales and marketing. Give them a shot and see what they could do for you.

7 Tips for Improving Online Sales Using Social Media

#1: Provide Sales Support With Native Chat

Native chatting (or “conversational ecommerce”) is using the messaging services within each social network to automate, customize, and personalize your communication.

With higher retention and engagement rates, these apps have quickly become the go-to choices for customers who want to connect more directly with businesses. In other words, if you’re not using chat apps to automate confirmations (and yes, even to sell), you’re missing a huge social ecommerce opportunity.

However, approach automated chat apps (like Facebook Messenger Bots) with caution. It’s too easy to cross over from the human to the inhuman side of conversational commerce.

For instance, using native chat for blatant marketing (as if it’s the newest and coolest email list) is a huge no-no. Likewise, so is relying on it to automate front-end sales.

Don't rely on native chat to automate the sales process.

Don’t rely on native chat to automate the sales process.

But used by humans for humans, the benefits can be massive.

Take Bontact, for example. It’s a multi-channel, real-time support service that allows you to manage native chatting on any network or device. Being able to respond to questions and problems natively (meaning within the natural channels your customers already communicate on) helps you provide better customer service, increase customer retention, and build a positive brand image.

Bontact's dashboard lets you manage all user conversations from a single place. This helps you tailor assistance (and even move toward upselling and cross-selling) based on consumer history.

Bontact’s dashboard lets you manage all user conversations from a single place. This helps you tailor assistance (and even move toward upselling and cross-selling) based on consumer history.

#2: Monitor Conversations About Your Business

Social media is a goldmine for listening to and participating in customer conversations. However, the constant onslaught makes it difficult to identify the information that really matters. Brand listening is the art of deriving valuable insights by observing, compiling, and analyzing conversations about your brand, industry, and competitors.

Keeping a finger on the pulse of your online audience helps you salvage tricky situations, reward brand advocates, generate new leads, mine creative marketing techniques, identify customer pain points, track sentiments, and gauge motivations. On top of that, the keenest companies track their competition, too, ready to swoop in and help any dissatisfied customers.

All of this requires you to go beyond monitoring your official social media mentions. That’s where Talkwalker comes in. It’s a social media analytics and reporting platform that will examine both text and visual content.

The social listening functionality taps into the complete spectrum of conversations across 150 million websites, social networks, print outlets, and media broadcasts. The tool’s analytics will benchmark your performance against competitors, pinpoint conversational themes, trace viral hashtags, and identify relevant influencers.

Monitoring your explicit brand mentions on social only tells you half of the story. Talkwalker pulls in comprehensive data, even when you're not tagged.

Monitoring your explicit brand mentions on social only tells you half of the story. Talkwalker pulls in comprehensive data, even when you’re not tagged.

#3: Encourage People to Share Their Customer Journey

Success on social media depends less on how much you talk about yourself and more on how much your customers talk about you. Similar to UGC, purchase-process sharing means encouraging consumers to share their favorite items before, during, and after a purchase.

As evidence, nearly 1 in 3 Facebook users has made a purchase after “sharing, favoriting, or commenting” on the product themselves.

AddShoppers is an on-site ecommerce platform that makes word-of-mouth marketing easy via incentivized purchase-sharing techniques like social rewards and refer-a-friend campaigns. You can leverage customer satisfaction to interact with audiences you otherwise might have missed or ignored, and strike while the (ecommerce) iron is hot.

Incentivize purchase-process sharing using AddShoppers. Your customers are far better salespeople than you'll ever be.

Incentivize purchase-process sharing using AddShoppers. Your customers are far better salespeople than you’ll ever be.

#4: Make It Easy to Buy on Your Social Channels

Social-driven retail sales are growing at a faster rate than all other online channels, and buy buttons play a starring role in this growth. Buy buttons let users make seamless and secure purchases from within social networks themselves. They reduce what’s normally a multi-step process to a single click. Let’s look at two options.

Facebook Buy Button

In June 2014, Facebook unveiled their first buy button to the public. This September, they launched a buy button for Messenger. If you host a Facebook store, you can showcase your best products, hold special Facebook sales events, display exclusive merchandise, and have a dialogue with customers.

Whether on your fan page, in your Facebook store, through paid ads, or even in Messenger itself, Facebook offers a host of direct buying options.

Whether on your fan page, in your Facebook store, through paid ads, or even in Messenger itself, Facebook offers a host of direct buying options.

Pinterest Buyable Pins

Pinterest rolled out buyable pins in mid-2015 to a select group of retailers, and now the option is available to everyone. The extended shelf life of pins, the enormous reach of repins, and the appealing aesthetics positioned Pinterest as a powerhouse of social ecommerce. A mixture of “aspirational and actionable” pins will stimulate purchases, increase product reach, and maximize revenue.

Pinterest recommends creating variations of buyable pins to address each stage of the social purchase journey: just looking, maybe I could, I'm narrowing it down, and I know what I want.

Pinterest recommends creating variations of buyable pins to address each stage of the social purchase journey: “just looking, maybe I could, I’m narrowing it down, and I know what I want.”

#5: Curate and Feature User-generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created and shared by your fans, followers, and customers on social platforms, either spontaneously or through contests or giveaways.

Does curating UGC work for ecommerce? Absolutely. According to Business Insider, consumers who come across UGC are 97% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

User-generated images (images created by customers featuring your products) are especially powerful. In fact, when online shoppers were asked to choose between UGC (like people post to Instagram) and professional images on product description pages, the overwhelming preference was for Instagram photos: 77% to 22%.

Those kinds of findings are why Yotpo created their social curation tool for Instagram. Using authentic visuals will demonstrate social proof, drive high-intent users from Instagram to product pages, increase on-site conversions, and improve ad performance.

Yotpo lets you collect, curate, tag, and feature Instagram photos on social and your ecommerce site.

Yotpo lets you collect, curate, tag, and feature Instagram photos on social and your ecommerce site.

#6: Produce Seasonal, Topical, and Event-related Content

Nearly all ecommerce businesses operate on a seasonal calendar, and for the most part, they do a great job of creating sales, discounts, emails, and incentives. They’re also outstanding at stocking their social streams with announcements about all of those seasonal ecommerce activities.

Where most stores fall short, however, is with creating seasonal content that isn’t overtly promotional. Why is that a bad thing? Because dominating your seasonal activity with one pitch after another comes off as thoroughly disingenuous … and even antisocial.

The answer is to get organized with a social content-creation platform like PromoRepublic.

With a library of thousands of seasonal, topical, and thematic templates (including celebrations as specific as Hugh Laurie’s and other celebrities’ birthdays), PromoRepublic makes it easy to craft genuinely social posts related to the events your audience cares about. Plus, the content calendar lets you load and schedule those date-sensitive posts.

With PromoRepublic, you can create seasonal, topical, and event-related updates without being too salesy.

With PromoRepublic, you can create seasonal, topical, and event-related updates without being too salesy.

#7: Create Social-friendly Images

You’d be hard-pressed to find any kind of social content without visuals. As users get more discerning, however, they’re shunning generic stock images. A Chute Digiday study on the state of visual marketing determined that more than 70% of respondents find images at least twice as effective as text content alone.

The problem is what do you do if you’re not a designer and can’t afford to hire one? Two tools stand out.

For true-to-life photos, Buffer’s Pablo lets you select from over 600,000 royalty-free photos and/or upload your own, which is perfect for product pictures. Choose from network-specific image templates, 10 filters, 6 use-case templates, and 3 font arrangements: headline, body, and caption. No registration is required.

Add text to high-quality and royalty-free images using Pablo. Plus automatically create images sized correctly for each social network.

Add text to high-quality and royalty-free images using Pablo. Plus, automatically create images sized correctly for each social network.

For graphics and infographics, Venngage offers hundreds of templates to quickly create detailed visuals even if you have no design skills. The templates are categorized into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced to accommodate your level of expertise and experience with the product.

Design shareable social media graphics or infographics with Venngage (even if you're not a designer yourself).

Design shareable social media graphics or infographics with Venngage (even if you’re not a designer yourself).

Conclusion

Do the words “social selling” conjure up sleazy images of unsolicited and heavy-handed pitches instead of conversations, the very thing social media is supposed to be about?

Ads on social media are far from ineffective, but if they’re the only tactic you rely on, the odds of your ecommerce business coming off as decidedly antisocial are high. Instead, it’s vital to add in one or more of these seven “musts” to your ecommerce social media mix.

We can help

Here are a few online store software and service we provided to help grow your sales and marketing. Give them a shot and see what they could do for you.